Alright, so this happened a couple apartment buildings down from mine, yesterday evening at 7 p.m.: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-rogers-park-sexual-assault-20140130,0,46020.story
A 24-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in her apartment's laundry room. I've gone from feeling a bit sick about it - I was walking, alone, in front of that building, at 6:50 - to angry. SHE WAS DOING HER FUCKING LAUNDRY!
I made a distasteful joke to my friend about how it's incidents like this are why I don't do laundry. Her response was, "Actually, I hope […] you have Mitchie do it. Geeze 2014 and this is how we're empowered: delegating household chores to men so we don't get raped."
And - I don't know this, but let me project - if they catch the man who did this, and if they decide to prosecute, the defense will take the following route:
Defense: Were you drinking that night?
And what if she had a beer with dinner?
Defense: Where did you get the beer?
Possibly the supermarket.
Defense: How intoxicated were you, exactly?
Defense: Why were you doing laundry at that time of night?
Defense: Do you ever invite men over to your apartment?
And so on. Regardless of how unrelated her activities were, that night, to a stranger attacking in her laundry room, the defense will pry at her life and turn it upside down to let everything fall out - all its minutia and ordinariness. And the defense will do this because what else can they do? And also because it might work. She's both victim and witness, after all - the weight of the whole trial rests on her - and the jury might find her guilty of doing anything while female.
At some point, I really hope we as a society start taking sexual assault seriously because when we talk about gender equality, we talk about the difference in pay or about traditional gender roles. We rarely discuss the impact on women of being under the threat of violence, 24/7. We get on with our lives and take our chances.